Borrowers who were victims of mortgage servicers who broke various laws — robo-signing, false affidavits, etc. — may be eligible for compensation, but may also have to waive the right to any future claim against the lender.
Anyone who went through the foreclosure process in 2009 or 2010 has until April to apply for restitution; they need to show they were “injured” by a lender’s law-breaking. (Amusingly, Anthony Sanders, a professor of finance at George Mason University, referred to robo-signing as a “technical error.”)
Various consulting firms are reviewing the 4.5 million foreclosure files of Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo to verify those claims; review of other lenders’ paperwork will begin soon.
But while those consultants insist they are unbiased (“We believe we are independent,” said the managing director of one), any relationships they have with lenders have not been disclosed — something some members of Congress are not entirely comfortable with.
As Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) put it, “The last thing homeowners need after so many challenges is one more process where there’s not full and accurate disclosure.” That’s especially true as those homeowners will sign away their rights to sue those the lenders after receiving compensation.
That compensation will come out of a $19 to $25 billion settlement between the banks and state and federal officials that’s expected to be approved soon.
Clarification: That figure includes the value of principal write-downs, interest rate reductions, and cash penalties.